Morning Prayer: Feast of the Nativity of St. Jean-Baptiste (June 24th)

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Psalm: 82, 98
Old Testament: Malachi 3:1-5
New Testament: John 3:22-30

So normally I use a piece of Scripture as the catalyst for my reflections here on this blog. Today, however, I was caught by the utter simplicity and directness of the Collect appointed for today:

Almighty God,
you called John the Baptist
to give witness to the coming of your Son
and to prepare his way.
Give your people the wisdom to see you
and the openness to hear your will,
that we too may witness to Christ’s coming
and to prepare his way.
Through your Son Jesus Christ our Lord,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and forever. Amen.

Take a look at this prayer. It asks not only for correct vision to see God…..but the courage and strength to do His will. 🙂

In the Forerunner John the Baptist, all Christians have a clear example of what it means to give witness and to be a prophet. He was not a man who messed around. He called a spade a spade, and never made light of people’s deeds. May the whole Church…the whole Body of Christ rejoice in this day and pray that some of John’s character will rub off we who are called to preach the Gospel and speak truth to power. +

Evening Prayer: Eve of the Nativity of St. Jean-Baptiste

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Psalm: 103
Old Testament: Sirach 48:1-11
New Testament: Luke 1:5-21

Y’know…..for all my religious education and seminary training….I’ve never quite understood the connection between Elijah and John the Baptist. I mean….it makes sense since Elijah preached repentance and destruction just like Jesus’ cousin…..but why is he the prophet singled out for comparison???

I don’t pretend to know the answer and would welcome any feedback from my readers as to why Jewish/Early Christians would have made this connection. 🙂

That aside, I was drawn to a line that was repeated both in the lesson from Sirach, and is repeated with slight adjustment in Luke. Check it out:

At the appointed time…you will turn the hearts of parents to their children (Sirach 48:10)

The Third Evangelist quotes this same line, but adds an extra role for Elizabeth and Zechariah’s son.

With the spirit and power of Elijah he will go before him, to turn the hearts of parents to their children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord (Luke 5:17)

What causes me to scratch my head a little bit is that John the Baptist’s ministry was not exactly lovey-dovey. If anything, his call to repentance and harsh words against the Pharisees seems extremely divisive.

But what if the parent talked about….the one we are reunited with….is not a human one. What if our hearts are being turned to the Father??? Then the reading and comparison starts to make sense.

If our relationship to the Father is broken, then every other relationship in our lives can be potentially off-balance. The call to repentance and baptism is not to avoid destruction and wrath…..but as an invitation to right-living and right-relationship.

Tonight we thank God for sending his messenger to make our crooked ways straight and to prepare a highway for our God…..so that we might know our Father face-to-face. +

Note to the reader: You will have to forgive my use of the French name tonight….it’s one of the few times I let my ethnic heritage show even though I can’t speak the language very well 😉

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